The Earliest Events Of Importance To Bellows Falls And Vicinity

Among the earliest things that were of interest to this town and residents of this section of the Connecticut River Valley, in connection with its early settlement, were the following incidents:

1704, March 5. -First Protestant Christian sermon ever preached in territory which afterward became Vermont, at the mouth of Williams River in Rockingham, by Rev. John Williams, an Indian captive from Deerfield, Mass. From this the river has its name.

1735, January 15. -First charter granted to Rockingham, under authority of King George II, by the Province of Massachusetts Bay to Palmer Goulding and fifty-nine others. The name of the township under this charter was ” Goldenstown.”

1752, December 28. -Second charter of Rockingham, under which present titles hold, granted under authority of King George II, by the Province of New Hampshire to Samuel Johnson and fifty-eight others.

1753, March 28. -First meeting of the “grantees”, or “Proprietors”, of the township held.

1753, “In the spring. “-First three settlers, Moses Wright, Jonathan Bigelow and Simeon Knight, came to town. They returned to Northfield, Mass., “within a few months, driven back by the Indians.”

1760, July 17. -The proprietors voted to assist Michael Lovell in building the first sawmill.

1761. -“Last Wednesday of March.”-First town meeting held. Rev. Andrew Gardner moderator and Moses Wright town clerk.

1770, March 28. -Town voted its first salary to the town minister: “Seventeen bushels of Indian corn be Delivered to the Rev’d Andrew Gardner by the Overseers out of the Rent that Nathaniel Davis owes the Town.”

1771. -First census taken showing “225 souls” in town.

1773, August 25. -Voted to build a small meetinghouse. Its size was to be thirty-five by twenty-five feet, -“till the town be able to Build a Larger.”

1773, October 27. -First church in town organized, and Mr. Samuel Whiting ordained as its first pastor.

1774, December 12. -Town meeting held for the first time in the new meetinghouse. They had been held in taverns and private houses until this date.

1775, March 12. -“About 40 good, true men” of Rockingham marched in a body to Chester to dissuade Judge Chandler from holding court in Westminster the following Tuesday.

1775, March 13. -From sixty-five to one hundred Rockingham citizens marched to Westminster and took part in the “Westminster Massacre.”

1785. -First toll bridge across the Connecticut River built by Col. Enoch Hale. It was the only bridge across the river at any point until 1796.

1791. -Second census of the town taken, showing 1235 inhabitants.

1792. -Work upon the building of the Bellows Falls Canal commenced. It was chartered the year before. It was finished in August 1802.

1798. -The second church in town (Immanuel) organized. It held its services in the present old meetinghouse in Rockingham Village until 1816, when it was moved to Bellows Falls, and the same organization is functioning today.

1801, January 1. -First post office in town established at Rockingham Village, with “Roswald” Bellows as postmaster.

1801, April 1. -First post office established at Bellows Falls, with Dr. William Page, postmaster. He was one of the two charter members of the Bellows Falls Canal Co., and Great-grandfather of the late Governor Page of Rutland

1802. -First paper mill in Bellows Falls established by Bill Blake. He built one in Alstead, N. H., three years earlier.

1809, February 4. -Rev. Samuel Whiting, first town minister resigned after thirty-six years of service.

1812, May 12. -First great conflagration in Bellows Falls, with a loss exceeding $40,000.

1817, January 1. -First newspaper established in Bellows Falls, “Vermont Intelligencer and Bellows Falls Advertiser,” owned by Bill Blake & Co., edited by Thomas Green Fessenden.

1817, February 16. -First Masonic meeting held in town.

1819. -First church bell in town presented by Gen. Amasa Allen to Immanuel Church, and the village of Bellows Falls, the same in use now, cast by Paul Revere & Sons.

1824. -There were only 58 buildings of all kinds in Bellows Falls and North Walpole, including barns and out-houses.


Based on: The Connecticut River Valley in southern Vermont and New Hampshire: historical sketches, Rutland, Vt.: Tuttle Co., Marble City Press, 1929.

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